No. 17 Bruin Women Eyeing NCAA At-Large Bid

Nov. 6, 2001

Eric Peterson's UCLA women, ranked No. 17 in the U. S., and men's cross country teamswill compete Saturday (Nov. 10) at the NCAA West Region Qualifying meet, held at the RandolphNorth Golf Course in Tucson, AZ and hosted by the University of Arizona. The men's 10,000m eventwill start at 8:45 a.m. PST and the women's 6000m race will begin at 9:30 a.m.

Saturday's event serves as the west regional qualifying meet to the upcoming 2001 NCAACross Country Championships, on Monday, Nov. 19 at Greenville, SC and hosted by FurmanUniversity. Across the U. S., nine regions will automatically qualify the top two women's and men'ssquads (18 women's and men's teams), along with an additional 13 women's and men's at-largeberths that will be announced next week. For individuals not qualifying on a team, each region willalso produce four at-large individual women and men bids (for an additional 36 women and menrunners at the NCAA Championships).

The NCAA West Region is one of the toughest in the nation. In women's competition, itfeatures No. 1 Stanford, the 2001 Pac-10 winner, host No. 8 Arizona, No. 11 Arizona State, No. 17UCLA and No. 24 Washington. The men's division features No. 2 Stanford, the 2001 Pac-10champion, No. 8 Portland, No. 13 UC Santa Barbara, No. 14 Arizona State, No. 18 Oregon, host No.20 Arizona and No. 25 Washington.

Under Peterson, the Bruin women are looking to capture their third NCAA at-large teambid in the last four years (the UCLA women also qualified as a team in 1998 and '99). Because theBruin men's team has been slowed all season with injuries, they are probably not in a position toearn an at-large bid. However, UCLA senior Bryan Green, feeling healthy after battling the flu forthe last several weeks, and true freshman Ben Aragon, are in a position to qualify for the NCAAChampionships as at-large individuals with strong performances on Saturday in Tucson.

Running for the Bruin women will be - junior Elaine Canchola, sophomores, Lena Nilsson,Valerie Flores and Tiffany Burgess, along with true freshmen, Alejandra Barrientos, UCLA's No. 1runner this season who has been slowed the last several weeks recovering from the flu, Lori Mannand Carolyn Shea. The alternate will be sophomoreJessica Marr. Two weeks ago (Oct. 27) at the Pac-10 meet in Scottsdale, AZ, the Bruin women had a strong fourth-place team finish, led by Canchola (16th, 21:43.8, 6000m) and Flores (19th, 21:52.7). The addition of Nilsson strengthens the Bruin team. Last spring as aredshirt frosh in the 800m, she placed ninth at the NCAA Outdoor and third at the Pac-10.

'Our women's team, at times throughout the season, has run well,' said Peterson, in hiseighth season coaching the Bruin women. 'But what we are looking for on Saturday is our top teameffort. We are a Top Five team in our region and if we run our best team race of the season onSaturday, we can be one of the nation's elite squads, a Top 15 team in the U. S.'

Running for the Bruin men will be Green and Aragon, along with senior Justin Patananan,junior Phil Young and freshmen, Bryan Bauerle, Puneet Mahan and Seth Neumuller. FreshmenReggie Oronoz is the alternate. Two weeks ago at the Pac-10 meet, the Bruin men placed sixth, ledby Green (18th, 25:11.7, 8000m) and Aragon (19th, 25:12.3).

Over the last two seasons, Green has established himself as one of the top men's distancerunners on the West Coast. Last fall in cross country, he placed in the Top 10 of every regular seasonmeet and qualified for the NCAA as an individual. This fall, he won the individual title at theSundodger Invite in Seattle on Sept. 22 and placed 15th in the individual race at the NCAA Previewmeet on Oct. 13 in Greenville, SC. Aragon has been UCLA's top runner at the Griak Invite (Sept. 29in Minneapolis) and Arizona State Invite (Oct. 5) and won the individual crown at the CS FullertonInvite II on Oct. 19.

'Individually, Bryan (Green) and Ben (Aragon) have an excellent chance to run well at thequalifying meet and represent our program as individuals at the NCAA Championships,' saidPeterson, in his second season coaching both the Bruin men's and women's squads. 'As a unit, I wantour pack of runners to have a strong team effort and match our performance at the Pac-10 meet.'

Sat., Sept. 1 at CS Fullerton Invitational (women, 2nd/men, 3rd)Sat., Sept. 8 at UC Irvine Invitational (UCLA 'B' Teams - women, 5th/men, 10th)Sat., Sept. 22 at Sundodger Invitational (Seattle, WA)(women 2nd/men 3rd)Sat., Sept. 29 at Roy Griak Invitational (Minneapolis, MN)(women 8th/men 30th)Fri., Oct. 5 at Arizona State Invitational (women 2nd/men 2nd)Sat., Oct. 13 at NCAA Preview Meet (Greenville, SC)(women 7th)Fri., Oct. 19 at CS Fullerton Invitational II (women 1st/men 1st)Sat., Oct. 27 at Pacific-10 Championship (Tempe, AZ) (women 4th/men 6th)Sat., Nov. 10 at NCAA West Region Qualifying (Tucson, AZ)Mon., Nov. 19 at NCAA Championship (Greenville, SC)
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